No matter how many years I have been in school, the first day is always very nerve wracking for me, but exciting at the same time. I have now started 34 semesters if you count Kindergarten on, make that 35 with the dawn of spring semester 2010. If you just look at my college days, I have probably seen about 30-35 syllabi, those lovely packets of paper that lay out for you the number of pages you will be required to read and write and other projects you’ll have to do. Often these give you a bit of a snapshot of what the semester is going to look like: stressful, light, or downright ugly. Of course, if you were in one of my business classes the syllabus was kind of a waste of paper because all they put was the name of the course, overall objectives, and contact information, not very telling. No matter how many “first days” I’ve had, I always manage to get overwhelmed when I look at all that is before me.
My second semester of graduate school is no exception. Because of the holiday on Monday, classes officially started on Tuesday of this week. My class on campus actually started on Thursday, but I was able to view the syllabus and schedule ahead of time and get a flavor for the course, along with some assigned reading that we have to do BEFORE we came for the first class time. As I read the syllabi for the first time, I kept reminding myself that all of these papers and projects don’t need to be completed at once, but they are spread out over the whole semester. It took me about 3 times of reading everything to finally feel like I could handle all that is coming. And you know, it will all work out (it has for the past 34 semesters). I need to take each assignment one at a time, be diligent in keeping up with my reading, and just be a good student the way that I have the past 18 years.
I do think I will enjoy my classes once I get into them. My online class is called Christians in Pluralistic World. This class looks at the many religions in the world both from an ideological standpoint and the day-to-day issues of the religion, and then also discusses how we as Christians can respond and dialogue with people from each different religion. As part of the class we have to do a roundtable paper where we take a particular view of a religion and describe and discuss to the point that a person from that religion would say, “Yes, that’s what I believe”. So it might be how Muslims view Jesus Christ, or something like that. There are only 2 books for the class, and we had to just read the introduction to the one this week but I think it will be really interesting. I especially like that the author will look at the day-to-day aspect of peoples’ lives, and how their religion at home might be different from the facts that we normally study.
Once I got to my class on campus, Intro to Missiology, I also decided I will really like it! My professor was actually one the professors that my bosses, Kent and Erika, had when they were at Southwestern Seminary and Erika worked for Dr. Anderson for awhile. He is in his 80s but is still going strong, teaching adjunctly at a number of different colleges in the US and around the world. He was a pastor for about 10 years, then served as a missionary in Argentina, and after coming back to the states has been a professor for over 30 years. He also has a great sense of humor, which will make the class fun. We will be looking at the history and strategy and so forth of missions, so I know Dr. Anderson will have plenty of stories.
So, even though I was a bit overwhelmed at first, like I normally am, I know that I just need to be diligent and soak up all I can this semester, and it will be just fine!